Lazily but popularly described by Filipinos who had set foot here, Bangkok is just like Manila. For a first-timer Filipina who’s here in Bangkok to do business and inject leisure whenever she can (and I mean whenever), this familiarity brings both excitement and comfort.
For one, my companion and I do not look like foreigners here. We made it a point to always go out looking like locals and we didn’t had a hard time blending in the crowd. The moment we speak English, though, we’re given away. Most Thais do not speak English eloquently. Also, during those times we were there, the kingdom is still mourning the death of their beloved king,King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed away October, 2016. Most Thais wear all black and were easily identifiable by that.
Land of Smiles
The Land of the Free. City of Angels. These are the phrases which pertain to Thailand and Bangkok. But did you know that Bangkok’s official name best describes it? What with Bangkok’s full name which is the world’s longest name of a country’s capital, Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.
Description and bits of history in a name which means “The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (unlike Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.”
Bangkok may be the City of Smiles but do not be fooled, though, Bangkok is also known for its share of deceit behind those sweet and friendly smiles. Read the full tell-tale of how I was scammed in Bangkok here.
Love for their King
Thais regard the king as their father. Thailand’s constitutional monarch only performs ceremonial functions but he is dearly regarded as a father. According to traditions, the kingdom is still at a state of mourning until the king is finally laid to rest – through cremation. As of this writing the body of the former king, whose photos are enshrined on every major street and buildings and even malls, is still kept inside the Grand Palace so people across the land could have opportunity to pay their last respect. King Bhumibol is known to have worked for causes favoring the poor, thus his appeal to the masses.
Efficient, complex, and dependable by Manila standards. The Skytrain, BTS, and MRT lines are interconnected already. The fact that during rush hours aircon still functions and everyone who lined up were able to come inside the trains are enough for me to say that their public transportation is great – because at least it works. The traffic is noted to be one of the worst in the world which, again, did not bother me at all because I’m used to it. Sense the bitterness I have with Manila traffic? Uber and Grab are available. From the airport to the city, pink taxis adorably proliferate. Tuk tuks are available too and is advisable if you look for some cultural experience. Howerver, tuk tuk fares can sometimes be as much as what air-conditioned taxis charge.
Most shopping malls and centers can be reached through Skytrain/BTS/MRT line that’s why it’s recommended to learn riding those while in Bangkok. Bangkok houses Chatuchak (pronounced as Jatujak) Market, the largest of its kind in the world, where you could buy just about any thing. MBK, Platinum Mall, Terminal Mall, Palladium, Pratunam, Siam Paragon and lots of other shopping centers are here to cater to all types of shoppers from wholesale, bargain-hunters, to posh, luxury-brand kind. In Manila, Bangkok is mostly known for cheap yet quality ready-to-wear clothes. Some RTW resellers in the Philippines import items from Bangkok.
More of my Retail Shopping in Bangkok here.
All religions are represented here but Thailand is predominantly Buddhist. In its streets, monks and ordinary people praying or lighting incense and leaving behind offerings to spirit houses are common sights.
Colloquial jokes have it that when a man goes to Thailand he is to come back a woman. Medical tourism especially gender reassignment is big here. I did not have a first-hand encounters with transgenders and its colorful stories upon my stay. I wouldn’t even remember that joke until our taxi from hotel to airport amusingly held this ads at the back pocket of the driver seat.
A visit to Jim Thompson House Museum, the Grand Palace, Chuphraya River, the Flower Market and the native dance performance conducted at the hotel provided a scratch on the surface of Bangkok and Thailand’s rich culture. Click on the links, please, for more.
Thai Airways provided much information on its in-flight entertainment about Thailand. For one, I learned that Thais offer the spirits representations of four basic human needs, one of which is fabric or clothing. That’s the reason why Thai silk due to its high quality and artistry is a national symbol and is even in the tagline of Thai Airways, their very own flag-carrier airline (Smooth as silk). A trip to Jim Thompson House could very much show how silkworms start the magic of producing one of Bangkok’s legit souvenir.
Heaven! I’m so picky with food but Thai cuisine got me. My sense of adventure with foreign food has led me to just as far as eating most meals on fastfood joints and Starbucks when I go abroad. This time though for the whole 6 days I just had Mcdonalds once (what an achievement!). I also discovered I can eat tom yum, chicken in banana leaf, pad thai and jasmine rice everyday. Theif food is fragrant! We even tasted tiny yellow rice cakes shaped like a flower which literally tasted like flower! Hint of mint can be tasted in most meals which makes the dish taste clean and refreshing. I don’t like curry because of the smell but dishes with curry here smells fine.
I did not try the street foods. My food adventurism did not allow me to go that far. Fruits are everywhere which is a healthy way of being if you’d ask me. Instead of sodas or colored water, natural juices are available at every turn. Coconut juice tastes like it has pandan infused on it naturally and that makes buko juice here a must try.
What are your impressions of Bangkok when you visited? Please share in the comments more interesting ideas on how to tour Bangkok especially when you are there to do some errands.